Mitski has opened up about her decision to step away from the music industry and shared how “absolutely terrible” it feels to be releasing new music again. Back in 2019, the Japanese-American singer-songwriter took to Twitter to announce that her gig in New York’s central park would be her “last show indefinitely”.
Her fans were bewildered: “You’ve been on the road for what…five years?” one Twitter user replied to the since-deleted Mitski account. In reply, she wrote: “Yeah. It’s time to be a human again. And have a place to live”. At the time she assured fans that she wasn’t calling it quits, but “stepping away”.
Over two years later, Mitski is set to release her sixth studio album Laurel Hell, which arrives on February 4th, 2022. In a recent interview, she shared the details behind her decision to take a break from the music industry. “You develop this constant ticker in your mind of people’s potential criticism or commentary on whatever you’re making, even in the middle of making it,” Mitski began. “And that will never really go away, I don’t think”.
While Mitski was certainly exhausted, it wasn’t a “physical exhaustion” that motivated her to stop touring and making music, but rather a feeling that she could no longer stand the “super-saturated” consumerism of the music industry: “It was simpler to just explain it away as physical exhaustion which, of course, was part of it,” she recalled. “But looking back, it was more mentally [about] being a working person in the music industry, which is like this super-saturated version of consumerism”.
During her time away from the spotlight, Mitski was “filled with regret and grief”. For a while, she thought that she’d made a huge mistake, remembering a time when she couldn’t listen to other people’s music without being overwhelmed by the desire to return to her former life. “I would think, ‘Oh my God, I wish I was still doing this,’ and I would just tear up, which is pathetic,” she explained.
Mitski always made it clear that she intended to return to music, but now that she has, she seems uncertain as to if she’s made the right decision. “How does it feel to be releasing a record again? Terrible. Absolutely terrible,” she said. “It’s like, ‘Oh Jesus, here we go again. I thought I was having fun and now it’s no fun anymore’.”
While Mitski’s future in music remains uncertain, fans are celebrating the release of Laurel Hell and its accompanying tour, which kicks off on February 17th at The Orange Peel in Asheville, North Carolina. She will then embark on the UK and European leg, which will run between April and May.